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Isaiah Reassures King Ahaz


In the days of Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel went up to attack Jerusalem, but could not mount an attack against it. 2When the house of David heard that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.

3 Then the L ord said to Isaiah, Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller’s Field, 4and say to him, Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. 5Because Aram—with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah—has plotted evil against you, saying, 6Let us go up against Judah and cut off Jerusalem and conquer it for ourselves and make the son of Tabeel king in it; 7therefore thus says the Lord G od:

It shall not stand,

and it shall not come to pass.


For the head of Aram is Damascus,

and the head of Damascus is Rezin.

(Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered, no longer a people.)


The head of Ephraim is Samaria,

and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.

If you do not stand firm in faith,

you shall not stand at all.

Isaiah Gives Ahaz the Sign of Immanuel

10 Again the L ord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the L ord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the L ord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. 17The L ord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”

18 On that day the L ord will whistle for the fly that is at the sources of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures.

20 On that day the Lord will shave with a razor hired beyond the River—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will take off the beard as well.

21 On that day one will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, 22and will eat curds because of the abundance of milk that they give; for everyone that is left in the land shall eat curds and honey.

23 On that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns. 24With bow and arrows one will go there, for all the land will be briers and thorns; 25and as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread.


1. And it came to pass. Here is related a remarkable prophecy about the wonderful deliverance of Jerusalem, when it appeared to have been utterly ruined. Now the Prophet explains all the circumstances, that by means of them the miracle may be more fully displayed, and to make it manifest, that not by the wisdom or power of man, but by the favor of God, the city has been preserved. For so ungrateful were the people, that, at the close of this transaction, they would not have understood that they had been delivered by the hand of the Lord, if all the circumstances had not been expressly brought to their remembrance. And, indeed, there were very few persons who, in the hour of danger, ventured to hope what Isaiah promised; because they judged of themselves and of the state of public affairs from present appearances. In order, therefore, to make known the remarkable kindness of God, he enters into all the details, that they may perceive from what danger and from whose hand they have been delivered. Let us also understand that this kindness was conferred on ungrateful men, that the Church might be preserved, and that Christ might afterwards appear.

It ought to be observed that the Prophet speaks of the second war which was fought by Rezin and Pekah; and this may easily be inferred from the sacred history; for in the former war Ahaz was vanquished, and a vast multitude were carried into captivity, who were at length restored by the Israelites, when the Prophet, in the name of God, commanded that it should be done. Having again collected an army, (2 Kings 16:5,) the kings of Israel and Syria attacked Ahaz, because they thought that he had been worn out by the former war, and had no power to resist. The mention of this second war is intended to show the greatness of the miracle; for Ahaz had not strength left to resist so great a multitude, the flower of the whole nation having been swept away by the former war, and such of the people as remained being quite dispirited, and not yet recovered from the terror arising out of their recent defeat. So much the more, therefore, are the goodness and power of God displayed, that, pitying so great distress, he gave assistance to his people, and in a moment rescued them from the jaws of death, when all regarded their condition as hopeless.

Went up. This may be regarded as a statement and summary of the whole transaction; for he mentions the subjects on which he is about to speak, and in the Hebrew modes of expression briefly glances at those matters which he will afterwards explain more fully and at large. From the first he tells the result, that the expedition of the two kings was unsuccessful, and afterwards he will assign the reasons why Jerusalem could not be stormed; but before coming to that, he briefly notices the plan or design of King Ahaz.

2. And it was told the house of David. He does not mean that, at the very time when the two kings were approaching to the city, the king received intelligence about the league; for it would not have been safe for Ahaz to go out, when the invading army was spread over the country; but before they had collected their forces, it is said that King Ahaz trembled. Hence there is reason to believe that his consternation became greater when he saw the danger nearer. The house of David means the king’s palace and court; as if the Prophet had said that Ahaz and his counsellors had been informed about the conspiracy which had been formed against Judea.

As to the words, נחה (nachah) is variously rendered by interpreters. The signification of this Hebrew word being to lead, some draw from it this meaning, “The King of Syria led his soldiers to aid the army;” and they think that על (al) with ע (ain) is put for אל (al) with א (aleph). Others derive it from נוח (nuach), as if the letter ו (vau) were wanting, and render it, he rested. According to others, it is rather an inversion of the letters, and נחה (nahah) is put for חנה (chanah), which means to pitch a camp; and, therefore, they choose to render it, Syria is confederate 101101     “Syria is arm in arm with Ephraim; leans on the arm of the king of Israel, as on that of a friend.” — Stock. Nothing else was meant by the Prophet than that a league in war hath been formed between the Israelites and the Syrians, that with their united forces they might attack Jerusalem. In the use of the word Ephraim there is a figure of speech (synecdoche) very frequent in the Prophets, by which a part is taken for the whole. Under Ephraim the whole kingdom of Israel is included, not only because that tribe was superior to the rest in numbers and wealth, but because their first king, Jeroboam, was descended from it. (1 Kings 11:26.)

And his heart was moved. We see that by the house of David is here meant nothing else than “the king’s palace,” from which the terror spread to the whole nation; and indeed it was impossible but that, when they heard of the alarm of the king and the princes, the body of the people should be moved by the same kind of terror. As soon as this intelligence was received, all were struck with such dread that no man was master of himself. He expresses their trembling by an appropriate metaphor, which is also frequently employed by ourselves, (Il tremble comme la fueille en l’arbre,) he trembles like the leaf of a tree. The design of this is to heighten the miracle; for we learn from it that not only in the opinion of others, but likewise in their own opinion, their case was desperate. They would therefore have been utterly ruined if the Lord had not seasonably interposed.

This passage sets before us a very bright mirror, in which we may behold the thoughtlessness of the ungodly, when they do not feel the hand of God; and, on the other hand, the fearful trembling with which they are suddenly seized, when the Lord presents to them any danger. In the midst of their prosperity they are so much at their ease that they hardly believe that they are subject to the government of God, and undoubtedly imagine that they are placed beyond the reach of all danger. Adversity stuns them in such a manner that they suddenly fall down, and their senses are so entirely overpowered by terror that they lie like people who are lifeless or bereft of their senses. Such is the punishment by which the Lord arouses them from their deep slumber. At first they appear to be firm and immovable, as if nothing could throw them down from their rank; but now, at the slightest noise, they are suddenly seized with trembling. That terror is the righteous vengeance of God, to whom they never do homage until they are compelled.

Let us learn, that if we have any spark of faith, we ought not to distrust God when we are in any danger. It is indeed impossible that we should not be agitated and alarmed when dangers press upon us; but we ought not to tremble so as to be tossed about by our anxiety in every direction, and unable to see a harbour to which we may safely direct our course. There must always be this difference between the fear of the godly and of the ungodly, that the ungodly find no remedy for composing their minds; but the godly immediately betake themselves to God, in whom, knowing that they have a very safe harbour, though they be harassed by uneasiness, still they remain calm.

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